Walking outside, the first thing that caught my eye was a lone tree in the engineering quad. A few leaves scattered around the base, I first wondered if there was a cellular difference between the leaves that had fallen and those that were still growing. When I approached to take leaf samples, I noticed that some of the leaves seemed to be infected by some sort of parasite/fungus – little brown bumps were scattered on some leaves, while others seemed to be growing parasite free. My question then transformed in to an inquiry about the cellular effect that parasites have on plants. I prepared two slides in order to examine this question: one of a normal leaf and one of a parasitical leaf and examined both under the foldscope. Perhaps it is the blurriness of the photo, but it seems as if the leaves with the parasite/fungus have affected cell growth. The parasite seems to have affected the shape and size of the cells in the leaves. The parasite/fungus seems to have transcended the boundaries between cells and has merged between cells.
leaf with parasite/fungus
As I look back on the pictures, a few questions come to mind that I wish I had data to answer. Firstly, does the parasite/fungus affect the growth rate of the leaves? Are leaves in a similar location on the tree the same size? Moreover, because this tree was slightly isolated in location, I could have examined similar trees in the area to check for the same phenomenon.
Contributor: Lindsay Allison